Scotland's countryside magazine. Sarah visits the most northerly chocolate producer in the UK. Dougie travels the roads of Sutherland and Wester Ross on a Triumph Bonneville.
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Now, we may be called Landward,
but sometimes we have to take to the high seas
to bring you the best stories from around Scotland.
I'm on my way to Arran.
Hello and a very warm welcome to Landward.
We travel to the ends of the earth - well, at least to the remote corners
of Scotland - to bring you the best people, wildlife and produce.
Later in the programme,
I'll be meeting a man who reckons you can't beat beetroot
but, first, here's what else is coming up on Landward.
Sarah finds out if Durness really is a diabolical place to do business.
We were taking an order for a box of chocolates
every four seconds for two days.
Let's do it.
Nick tempts the residents of Ayr with a food van treat.
-Oh, that's nice.
-Ooh, that is nice!
I do not know, my friend.
-I'll have another one...
And I continue my bike tour of north Scotland with a visit
to a tropical garden clinging to the wind-battered West Coast.
The winds, as you can feel,
sometimes, they can be really extreme,
in excess of 100mph.
Earlier this year,
an enterprising chocolate company we featured on Landward
went into the Dragons' Den to try and secure additional investment.
Sarah went to Durness in Sutherland to find out what happened next.
Durness. It's a stunning part of the countryside
and, for the last ten years, it's been home to chocolate entrepreneurs
Paul Maden and James Findlay.
What made you want to go on the Dragons' Den?
Hot chocolate! We've been making chocolates for ten years,
but then we invented our hot chocolate and that's why we went
on Dragons' Den, because we had a product that we could upscale.
-And that was that?
-And they didn't understand.
These are the Dragons...
Paul and James were after investment to help them
launch their new chocolate drink.
Hello. I'm Paul and this is James.
We're the founders of Cocoa Mountain.
We're here today to present an opportunity for the Dragons
to invest £80,000 in our chocolate business
and our world-famous hot chocolate drink.
It was all going swimmingly
until they revealed where the company was based.
And we're located in the far north-west of Scotland
by Cape Wrath.
I've been there, and it's a lovely,
lovely place for people who want to kind of step out of the world.
It's a diabolical place to set up business.
-It's just not an investment for me, so I'm afraid I'm out.
I'm going to say that I'm out.
There's nothing in there that says you're going to go,
"Right. Now's our moment."
-Ah, we're driven!
-You don't look it!
'We went in, expecting them to love our business
'and, within seconds,
'they all clearly decided that wasn't the case.'
They hated our business. They hated where we were located.
They thought we were idiots and they laughed us out of the room.
So, I mean, high hopes dashed fairly quickly.
Yes. They came back saying, diabolical location for a business.
Keep it small and keep it beautiful.
They actually said that we needed to relocate
to the south-east of England and we didn't stand a hope in hell
of producing anything in the Highlands that would make money.
Which really upset us, actually.
The Dragons reckon you can't run a growing business
in the far-flung north,
but maybe Cocoa Mountain can prove them wrong.
I think I'd better do some hands-on research.
-Right, Paul. My favourite bit. Time to make chocolate.
Right, carry on. I'm going to watch.
We're going to make a white chocolate bar with toffee pieces.
Peter Jones's favourite.
Stop the chocolate - release it into the mould.
Then to the second mould.
-And now we have to use a vibrating table.
-To even it all out?
To even it all out and make sure the chocolate fills the mould.
As the saying goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
Since appearing on Dragons' Den, online sales have doubled
and they've been inundated by potential investors.
Immediately after the Den,
we watched Twitter and we saw Twitter just go through the roof.
And at that point, we were taking an order for a box of chocolates
every four seconds for two days.
So, I mean, you couldn't have predicted it was going
-to create that sort of stir.
-We expected to come out of the Den
and we expected to go on television and to be made to look stupid.
But everybody looked at it and thought, "Wow, we love them!
"Let's buy their chocolates."
-Right, can I have a shot with the mould?
-Press to stop it and then...
-OK, pretty bad.
-Put it on the vibration table.
It's OK. We're probably going to have to weigh these.
I think they're the Christmas reject bars.
'Oh, well. I had a go!'
Erm, so what would you say to the Dragons now?
I'd say that you've missed an opportunity, guys.
And what about you, James?
I mean, what would you say if you had another moment with them?
-What would you say?
I'd say, "Come up and visit this area."
Get out of the metropolis that is London
and come and see what's happening in the remote parts of the country.
Because there's a lot of businesses that trade quite successfully
in smaller areas.
Paul and James have now appointed a partner
to help them manufacture their hot chocolate
and are about to go into production.
Despite the Dragons' opinion
that Durness is a diabolical place to set up a business,
Paul, James and their chocolate factory
seem to be doing a roaring trade.
And for the moment, they're not going anywhere.
Scotland has some amazing roads
and in the summer months they're chock-a-block with tourists
from all over the world
taking in the stunning landscapes, vistas and views.
This summer, we asked Landward viewers on Facebook to suggest
Scotland's best roads, the ones you enjoy driving the most,
and we were inundated with ideas.
It's week three of my trip round the north of Scotland by motorbike
and, thanks to the suggestions of viewers
Yvonne and Jonathan Mashon and Peter Stainthorpe, I'm making my way
south the 110 miles from Achriesgill in Sutherland
to Gairloch in Ross-shire.
There's no doubting how remote these roads are.
Just seven miles into the trip,
I cross the River Laxford using the only public road bridge.
When it was damaged in an accident in 2009,
the only way round by road was a 100-mile detour -
60 miles if you were brave enough to go off-road.
One of the things I love about going on a long trip on the bike is
you really get a sense of where you are.
You can feel that it's hot or cold,
you can smell the newly cut grass or the freshly turned earth.
For me, it's very like going for a walk in the hills.
Except on fast-forward.
It's 16 miles from the 19th-century bridge at Laxford
to the striking 20th-century one at Kylesku.
Passing the ruined Ardvreck Castle on the banks of Lock Assynt,
it's another 25 miles before the spectacular wilderness gives way
to the first signs of any real population on my trip today -
But I'm not stopping here.
I'm heading on to discover the sub-tropical oasis
on the rugged Atlantic coast of Wester Ross.
I'm taking a short break on my trip down to Gairloch by visiting
It's an amazing place, packed with exotic plants.
The gardens themselves were established back in the 19th century
and have survived 150 years of Atlantic storms battering the coast.
I'm meeting head gardener Kevin Bell from the National Trust,
who's continuing the work of Inverewe's founder, Osgood Mackenzie.
To protect his exotic and delicate plants in this exposed location,
Mackenzie planted a shelter belt of native pines.
That shelter belt takes a pummelling every winter
and Kevin faces an ongoing battle shoring up the garden's defences.
So Osgood Mackenzie was a real innovator and a guy with real vision?
Yes, the garden was as barren as the land over the other side.
-Which is very barren!
And he started to plant trees and it was only once they grew
and formed a shelter that he then started to make these
interesting gardens within the shelter belt areas.
This was planted in the 1860s by Osgood Mackenzie
and these are the original Caledonian pines.
As you can see, it's very exposed and, without the shelter belt,
there wouldn't be a garden, especially an exotic garden.
The winds, as you can feel,
sometimes, they can be really extreme, in excess of 100mph.
And they took out a lot of the shelter belt
in the north side of the garden.
What sort of work are you putting in to make sure
something like that doesn't happen in the future?
Well, it's the aim of the Trust to regenerate the shelter belt
and there's been a campaign to raise awareness of the plight
of the shelter belt and we've actually secured funding to start
the regeneration process, which will take it on in the future.
With a bit of luck and Kevin's hard work,
Inverewe's exotic flora will be around for at least
another 150 years.
It's easy to lose yourself here
among the garden's unexpected tropical delights.
But, fortunately for me,
it's only a short five-mile hop to today's final destination.
Today's journey finishes right here in Gairloch
which, like many of the places on this trip, offers stunning views.
Next week, I'll complete my square route of northern Scotland
as I burn up the miles from here all the way to Inverness.
And I really can't thank our Facebook followers enough
for suggesting that route. It truly was a joy.
Now, if you've any comments or anything
you'd like to see on the programme,
message us from that Facebook page or send us an e-mail.
On Landward, we visit dozens of places across Scotland every series.
But how much do we really know about them?
This week, we're passing through
Scotland's favourite mystery tour destination, Callander.
We asked locals to give us some statements about the place,
but are they true or false?
Scottish folk hero Rob Roy was born here. True or false?
Callander railway was used in the 1968
Mexico Olympics. True or false?
Callander is famous for having no pubs.
True or false?
Dr Finlay's Casebook was filmed here.
True or false?
Callander is famous for earthquakes.
Is this true or is this false?
But let's do an easy one first.
Time for a drink.
It's actually that it used to be having at least 20 pubs
for only 1,800 people. Fact.
What about Rob Roy?
Was he born in Callander?
But he is buried nearby.
As I suspected. Now, was Callander a location for Dr Finlay's Casebook?
Of course it was.
Callander doubled as Tannochbrae in the BBC's 1960s series.
Now, was Callander's railway really used in the 1968 Olympics?
That's got to be false!
old railway track was used to make the transit system in Mexico City.
And finally, what about those earthquakes?
But it's on the Highland Boundary Fault Line,
and it may happen one day.
Now, it's been a bit of a dog's life
for Euan over the years here on Landward
and, earlier in this series at a Borders hound trailing event,
he made a promise that he's about to fulfil.
But first, a quick bit of history.
Corrie is getting on a bit now.
She's 14 years old. That's 98 in dog years.
Long-time Landward viewers may remember Corrie,
my beloved golden retriever.
She sadly died about three years ago and, while she's irreplaceable,
I was keen to have a dog around the house again.
And so it's time to make good on that promise that Dougie mentioned.
The first-ever golden retrievers were bred right here
in Scotland in 1868
and, given their loving nature and their intelligence,
there was really only one choice for me.
She's a working retriever, she's six months old and she's gorgeous.
But she's also a little bit naughty. Yes, you are.
Bracken loves to have a play...
..with my walking boots...
..and in the hay!
As the name suggests,
golden retrievers were bred to retrieve game in the field.
Now, I don't anticipate Bracken ever being a fully-fledged gundog,
but I am keen that she learns the skills of a working dog,
so I've come to meet a man who's going to help me out.
'Charlie Thorburn has been training gundogs for about 12 years.
'I met him last year when
'I brought along the boss's Labrador, Kipper...'
-Shall we try a retrieve?
'..and it's safe to say that he didn't have the makings
'of a superstar gundog.'
There's a good boy! Yeah!
Come on, let's go and try that again. Come on.
'Bracken is not as old as Kipper,
'but I'm still keen to pick up a few tips...'
-Charlie, how you doing?
-How you doing?
-This is Bracken.
-She's six months...
..and I know she's doing some things wrong.
'..and Charlie's going to assess Bracken and give me -
'and you at home - some pointers.
'First up, how to deal with a dog that jumps.'
So, the worst thing to do is what you're doing now,
which is encouraging her, OK? What we've got to do is,
we've got to make sure she's down and teach her
that, when she's down on the ground, that's when she gets praise.
Make sure she understands that, when she jumps up at you,
there's no reward for it, OK?
But, if she stays down, you can then go down to her level...
HE MAKES KISSY NOISE
We can go right down to her level and we can talk to her
so she understands the praise is going to come
when you're down here but, as soon as I stand up, that's it.
Come on! Come on!
'Then, how to get your dog to come when you summon them.
'Charlie has a great tip -
'call their bluff and then run away!'
She's ignoring us.
So, when she's ignoring us, what we want to do is
we want to get her attention and we want to turn around.
Don't look at her, just turn around, go the opposite direction.
She'll be down there on her own and she'll appear back
because Dad's leaving, and she's suddenly all on her own.
-Here she comes.
-Took a long time coming.
And then lots of praise when she's down - you're down, you're low,
you're talking to her, making it fun for her to come back to you, OK?
That's another important thing.
We don't necessarily use titbits very often,
but you could certainly give her a little biscuit or something now,
just to encourage the fact that she's...
She's not that wild about them, actually. She's quite...
-Ah, well, had it today.
-That's a result.
OK. Good girl.
Good girl. So, how often should you be training her?
Um, you want to train her regularly,
but the training sessions should be short and sweet.
So, 10-15 minutes -
think of her as like a dog in months as a human in years,
so she's like a five or a six-year-old child,
can't cope with too much...
-Short attention span.
-Short attention span.
So, there's a lot to take in there, but is there any one tip
that you would suggest to people to stick with?
Yeah, the most important thing, I would say,
is to be consistent so that she understands this is what happens -
the rules are the rules, and they're exactly the same every day.
-So no jumping up.
-No jumping up. You can't let her jump up one day
and then say the next day she's not allowed to.
Can't let her jump on the sofa one day and say the next day
she's not allowed to. She won't understand that.
It's just got to be, "This doesn't happen."
All great advice for beginners like me and Bracken.
With over a fifth of Scottish households having a pet dog
and owners constantly encouraged to be more responsible,
a bit of training is never a bad idea.
So, with these little pups making Bracken look like a grown-up,
it's time to teach one old dog some new tricks.
You know, it's great to see
what Charlie and his dogs can actually do,
and it's really inspired me to get my head down
and do some proper obedience training.
So you, my dear, are in for some hard work...
(but it's going to be fun!)
Good girl! Hey!
Hey, come on!
Not going to do it, are you?
'Hm...perhaps a bit easier said than done.
Now, back on Arran.
Whiting Bay lies on the southeast corner of the island,
and I've come here to meet a farmer
who's part of a growing root veg revival.
In recent years, beetroot has had a hard time.
It was boring, unfashionable
and associated with being preserved in jars of vinegar for evermore...
but that's all changing.
In a moment, Nick will be rustling up a tasty treat with the freshest veg
in the Landward Food Van
but, first, I've got to collect it.
Robin, how are you doing? Good to see you.
Hey, Dougie, good to see you, eh?
-You all right?
-Yeah, I'm good.
-So, we've got the beetroot, here.
-Shall we lift a few?
-Yeah, let's lift it.
'This is Robin Gray's shoreside garden,
'just along the bay,
'and he's showing me some of the produce.'
That's about the size of the beetroot
that the chefs are looking for.
-They're slightly smaller than a golf ball. Yep.
-How much do you sell per year?
-3,000-5,000, depending on the size.
-And what's your market?
Our market is the restaurants in Glasgow
-and some of them on the island as well...
..and the festivals up and down the country as well,
the music festivals - T In The Park, Belladrum...
Oh, right, so you're selling to the younger generation as well?
-And they're lapping it up?
And Robin's not the only one with a bumper crop.
In the past two years,
beetroot sales have grown by almost a fifth in the UK.
That's down, in part, to it being branded a superfood -
linked with lowering blood pressure and improving athletic performance.
How do you react to the claims that it's known as a superfood?
That seems to be a bit of a trendy term these days. I mean, is it?
I don't know, I'm not a nutritionist.
But we use it a lot ourselves.
Even my wee one, she's five years old,
she takes beetroot juice, so it's...
I mean, I think...it seems to be doing her good, I don't know!
And is it easy to grow?
Fairly straightforward, yeah,
but we've got a wee secret weapon that I can show you.
-OK. I like a secret...
-Come this way.
-OK, good stuff.
Robin's secret weapon appears to be next to the goat pens...
-So, this is it.
-This is it, then, yeah.
-And what is it?
-This is the seaweed and goat manure compost.
-And this is the thing that makes the difference, gives it...
-Impacts on the taste.
The seaweed compost, once we put it in the soil, it feeds the soil,
then that's going to give you optimum flavour in the beetroot.
Do you get a sense of the flavour through the beetroot as well?
I think you do, I think it's a bit more intense,
-especially with the seaweed...
-The seaweed comes through...
-Wow. That's incredible.
Seaweed-infused beetroot -
not something you hear about every day!
And that's not Robin's only innovation.
Back at the fields, he's showing me something else.
There's one there. This is the orange beetroot we're doing.
It is VERY orange! Look at that!
-That's the one, yeah.
-That's so different, isn't it?
The orange beetroot seems very popular at the moment,
there's a big demand for that one, yeah.
And what would you say the difference in flavour is?
It's a bit more intense flavour,
and obviously you don't have all the red blood coming out
like the red one does, you've got orange blood!
-Delicious. I'm sure Nick'll love these.
And I can't wait to find out
what Nick's going to do with it in the Food Van.
But where is it?
Ah, yes, the Food Van is out on the road again,
bringing the best of unsung Scottish produce to the public
and, for the next few weeks, we'll be here
in the heart of historic Ayr,
where I'll be cooking up some dishes for the locals to let them try.
This week, I'm tempting their taste buds
with some of that beetroot.
And, as ever, I'm joined by my trusty assistant, Dougie.
What he lacks in talent, he makes up for in enthusiasm!
Indeed I do. Now, the thing about beetroot is I've tasted it before,
pickled in vinegar,
but there's lots more you can do with it, isn't there?
It's how most people eat beetroot, but beetroot is very versatile,
it's incredibly good for you, full of potassium
and lots of trace elements - very, very healthy stuff.
-The best way to cook beetroot is to bake it in the oven...
-..and we can do this together.
Foil, beetroot, wrap it up - you don't need to be delicate,
as long as it's sealed inside.
Onto a tray, and I'm going to bake it in the oven,
-200 degrees, for about an hour.
-Simple as that.
Then you unwrap it and the skin comes off,
and the beetroot is perfectly cooked,
and it has all the flavour and nutrients locked in.
Right, Dougie, need to bang this in the oven -
200 degrees centigrade for about an hour.
Got to let it cool down a bit so you can handle it,
so what we're going to do is just open them up.
And remember, we've baked them with nothing on the outside,
still got the skin on, so if you take a potato peeler or a small knife
and just peel the skin off the outside.
-Look at the colour of that.
-These are the orange ones.
I tell you, this is THE way to cook beetroot.
-Bit for you to try.
-Thank you very much.
-Oh, my goodness, that's so sweet!
-That is fantastic.
-That's... That is extraordinary.
-It's not like beetroot I've ever tasted before.
-It's quite sweet.
-Very, very sweet. Yeah.
So we're going to make a little bit of a sweet and sour sauce in here.
Now, this is a really difficult sauce to make, OK?
-So we need some honey, and we just scoot that into a pan...
So the honey's very sweet,
and we're going to balance that with some acidity, which is vinegar,
and then we're just going to boil that up so it is sweet and sour
and, as we reduce it down, it gets thicker and stickier,
and I'm going to make a little crust for the outside.
'Nick fries some unsalted cashew nuts
'while I continue to cut up the beetroot.'
-I've a question for you, Nick.
Do you think maybe I should have used gloves?
'He flavours the nuts with cayenne pepper and smoked paprika
'then grinds the lot together.'
So that's the toasted cashews.
So, once Dougie's finished with the beetroot,
we're simply going to turn them through the sweet and sour sauce,
it's going to make them sticky on the outside,
into the chilli cashews, onto a little cocktail stick,
and out to the good citizens of Ayr for their verdict.
Little bit of off-camera action there with Dougie.
Just staggered into something and...
Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.
There's blood everywhere, but it's just beetroot.
Nothing, nothing to see here.
-I've never done this before.
Neither have I, so we're both in the same boat.
I kind of dreamt the idea up in my head,
but I've never actually tried it out,
so I don't know how it's going to be.
And then into the cashew and chilli mix.
Would you like to be my guinea pig?
-Oh, quite spicy on the outside!
-Oh, it's very spicy on the outside!
Mixed with that sweetness of the beetroot inside, it's nice.
-We onto a winner?
-Oh, that's really, really nice.
-It's still burning, my goodness!
So, Dougie, let's go and see if the good citizens of Ayr
-are going to be daring with beetroot.
-Let's do it.
-What are you thinking?
-I'm getting beetroot.
-You're getting beetroot?
-You're on the telly.
I wouldn't have known that was beetroot.
Oh, that's lovely!
Ooh, yes, I love that!
Oh, that's nice.
Oh, that IS nice.
-It's all right.
I love the nuts on it.
It's really tasty and crunchy.
Would you consider doing something like that?
Erm, if my mum learns the recipe.
Very nice to hand round as long as they don't drop it on the carpet.
Where's the recipe?!
Facebook page - Landward Facebook page.
Do you sell much beetroot here?
Not really. There's not a big demand for it.
-Why do you think that is?
-I do not know, my friend.
-I'll have another bit, thank you.
So, clear evidence the good folk of Ayr, they love their beetroot,
and not just pickled in a jar, in a salad.
Yeah, so we're very happy, and ate all of it as well.
And that's all we have time for.
-It's goodbye from me...
..and goodbye from me, and goodbye from all the Landward team from Ayr.
Bye for now.
Dougie and Nick are back in the food van, persuading the people of Ayr that there's more to beetroot than can be found in a pickle jar. Sarah is visiting the most northerly chocolate producer in the UK, and Dougie takes in the stunning scenery of Sutherland and Wester Ross from the saddle of a Triumph Bonneville.